Hélio Freitas Sports Biography
Even though he got some impressive results for an amateur athlete, he wasn’t good enough to beat Brazilian professional athletes and qualify for Summer Olympics.
When Hélio read about the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the Brazilian wondered if he would have a chance to represent his country in Winter Olympics, and decided it was worthwhile giving it a try.
Until 2002, Hélio had never even watched people practicing cross country ski, since Brazilian TV has never broadcast a race of this sport. The only thing he knew about it was that this is the most physically demanding sport on the planet. Being an endurance athlete, that raised his interest.
Therefore, in August 2002, he traveled to Ushuaia, Argentina, when he was able to learn the very basics of the sport. In 2003, he bought his first roller ski, and started training in Brazil.
Also in 2003, he competed for the first time in Argentina, where the Brazilian Championships are held. He is a five time Brazilian cross country ski champion (2003/2004/2005/2006/2007).
Hélio was the first Brazilian to represent his country in a Nordic Ski World Championship (February 2005), and qualified for the XX Olympic Winter Games as the best ranked Brazilian on the FIS Points List.
In February 2006, he left Brazil to go to Torino´s snow.
"In World Championships and Olympics, there are always a few athletes representing countries that do not have snow, " says Helio. "But all of them live in countries with snow, or at least spend a long time training in the snow. I´ve never heard of any other Winter Olympics athlete who has traveled directly from a tropical country to the Olympic Village, like I did in 2006.”
Brazilian newspapers and magazines showed Hélio´s story:
At Torino 2006, Hélio competed at the 15 km Classical race, finishing 92 out of 99 participants, in 54min06sec. When asked about his participation on the event, he said:
"Given the obstacles and limitations I’ve faced for a proper training, I was happy just by being at the Olympics. In the end, I had my best performance, and managed to be faster than some other guys, so I had an extra reason for joy."
After the Olympics, Helio competed at the 2007 Nordic Ski World Championships (Sapporo, Japan) and 2009 Nordic Ski World Championships (Liberec, Czech Republic).
In January 2011, Helio competed at the US Cross Country Championships, and finished the race in just above 1 hour. If he was 14 seconds faster, he would have earned an automatic spot at the 2011 World Championships. In this event, as well as in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Brazil was represented only by full time athletes who spend most of the year training and competing on snow.
In the near future, Helio intends to start focusing on long distance races.